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A Quest of Excellence: Anushree M Bag Being an Evangelist in Technology Leadership

Anushree M Bag is a highly experienced technology executive known for her ability to effectively manage large-scale technology operations and drive innovation and efficiency improvements in both the public and private sectors. With a strong background in technology transformation, process management, project management, and technology roadmaps, Anushree is recognized as a change evangelist.

In her current role as the Chief Information Officer of the Indiana Department of Child Services, Anushree oversees a substantial budget and a sizable workforce. Her responsibilities include managing technology operations and promoting innovation within one of Indiana’s largest agencies. She serves as the executive IT sponsor for two transformative technology programs aimed at modernizing legacy systems in the child support and child welfare domains.

Anushree has forged strategic partnerships with renowned consulting firms and works with cutting-edge solutions like Salesforce, MuleSoft, Tableau, and Amazon Web Services, to drive technology-driven evolution within the Indiana DCS. She places a strong emphasis on building high-performance teams and fostering a positive work culture, where both the IT staff and IT leaders well-versed in cultural competencies and exhibit positive personality traits. Anushree believes that building a strong team and empowering them  is essential before building systems and applications. Her overarching goal is to align her multifaceted approach to technology leadership with the agency’s mission of effectively serving and protecting Indiana’s children and families.

Prior to her role at DCS, Anushree served as the Executive Director of Enterprise Risk and Resiliency Services at the Indiana Office of Technology, where she played a key role in risk management and cybersecurity. Her achievements included reducing cybersecurity risks, responding to federal regulatory audits, and conducting comprehensive cybersecurity assessments across the state, highlighting her commitment to data security and resilience.

Anushree also served as Managing Director at NEXTGN, offering consultancy services to organizations seeking performance optimization and guidance through complex regulatory landscapes. She has hands-on experience leading Agile software development projects and has served in advisory roles in cyber-resiliency. In previous positions, including Head of Enterprise Risk Management at Midwest ISO and various leadership roles at NIC, Anushree consistently demonstrated expertise in risk mitigation, improving operational efficiencies, and governance and leadership over large-scale IT project management. Her accomplishments encompass securing federal grants, optimizing IT vendor spending, successfully overseeing audits and system certifications, and implementing cybersecurity policies.

Anushree is a strong advocate for diversity in technology transformation initiatives, emphasizing the importance of multi-faceted diversity. She believes in fair gender representation, a wide age group, and a diverse mix of races and ethnicities within technology teams. Anushree is particularly passionate about empowering, enabling, and elevating women in technology and is dedicated to integrating non-traditional tech talent, including veterans and previously incarcerated individuals, into the workforce.

In her current role and throughout her career, Anushree remains committed to leveraging technology for the betterment of her workplace and community.

A Multifaceted Mission

The Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) is dedicated to safeguarding and nurturing the well-being of children across the Hoosier state. What sets DCS apart is its multifaceted mission, which includes not only child protection but also a strong emphasis on family preservation and reunification. DCS strives to maintain a delicate balance between ensuring child safety and actively working to strengthen families. By providing services that empower parents and caregivers to overcome challenges and create a stable environment for their children, DCS aims to break the cycle of abuse and neglect, ultimately promoting the best interests of Indiana’s children and families.

Driving Positive Impact in Health and Human Services

As the Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS), Anushree holds a pivotal role as an executive leader in IT in the health and human services sector within state government. In this capacity, she is entrusted with significant responsibilities related to the strategic use of technology in managing child support and child welfare programs. Modern technologies play an essential role in enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of these critical services.

Anushree’s role as CIO extends to harnessing the power of modern technologies to drive operational efficiencies within DCS. These technologies offer the potential to revolutionize case management processes, facilitate secure and seamless information sharing among relevant stakeholders, and empower data-driven decision-making. Moreover, in the context of child welfare, maintaining the highest standards of data privacy and security is paramount. Anushree’s expertise in leveraging modern technologies ensures that sensitive information is handled with the utmost care and security, aligning with DCS’s commitment to protecting and supporting vulnerable children and families in Indiana.

As CIO, Anushree’s leadership and strategic vision are instrumental in guiding her team toward achieving operational excellence while reinforcing DCS’s core mission. By embracing innovative technologies and best practices, she not only enhances the agency’s ability to fulfill its vital mission but also ensures that it remains at the forefront of modernization and efficiency within the health and human services sector. Anushree’s dedication to leveraging technology for the betterment of Indiana’s children and families is a testament to her commitment to driving positive impact in her role as CIO.

Ensuring Stability and Security in IT Infrastructure

In the short-term, Anushree’s primary objective is to ensure the stability and security of the existing technology infrastructure within the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS). This involves optimizing the current systems, enhancing data accuracy, and improving user experiences for both child support and child welfare programs. Achieving these short-term goals requires ongoing maintenance, a strong focus on cybersecurity measures, and a commitment to continuous training and skill development for the IT team. Data analytics is a key tool in driving data-driven decisions that have a positive impact on the lives of children and families in Indiana. The ongoing modernization initiatives in Child Support and Child Welfare are central to these short-term objectives.

Looking ahead to the long-term, Anushree envisions positioning the Indiana DCS as a leader in technological innovation within the health and human services sector. The agency aims to be at the forefront of technology adoption, embracing cloud solutions for scalability and fostering a culture of innovation within the IT team. Establishing seamless data interoperability with other state agencies will also be a critical part of enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of services provided by the Indiana DCS.

Additionally, the agency plans to leverage emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality to make informed decisions that positively impact the lives of children and families in Indiana. To achieve these long-term goals, Anushree emphasizes adaptability, talent development, and strategic partnerships. By remaining agile, investing in the growth and development of IT talent, and actively seeking collaborations, the Indiana DCS IT team is not only set to achieve its short-term objectives but also to establish itself as a trailblazer in using technology to ensure child safety and serve vulnerable populations in the community over the long term.

Leading by Example

Staying at the forefront of the ever-evolving tech landscape is not just a professional commitment for Anushree; it’s an imperative to ensure that the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) remains innovative and relevant in a rapidly changing market. To achieve this, Anushree employs a multifaceted approach.

Firstly, continuous learning is a fundamental aspect of staying updated with the latest trends, emerging technologies, and best practices. Anushree actively engages in extensive reading and listening to podcasts, attends industry conferences, and participates in professional networks. This commitment to ongoing education is essential to make informed decisions and drive innovation within the agency.

Secondly, fostering a culture of innovation within the IT team is crucial. Anushree encourages the talented team members to explore novel solutions and ideas that can enhance technology enablement for child support and child welfare services. Leveraging technology partners to implement modern, cutting-edge solutions is a key part of this process.

Besides, prioritizing adaptability ensures that the technology infrastructure remains agile and scalable, capable of seamlessly integrating new advancements. In a dynamic landscape, the goal is not just to keep pace but to lead, utilizing technology as a catalyst to better serve and protect Indiana’s children and families. This approach sets a national example for innovation in the health and human services sector.

Anushree’s approach aligns with the belief that a culture of innovation and adaptability is essential, especially in a rapidly changing world where consumers’ needs and expectations are evolving quickly. By embracing innovation and technology, the Indiana DCS can continue to improve its services, effectively safeguard children and families, and stay ahead of the curve in the health and human services field.

Staying Ahead of the Tech Curve

Anushree anticipates several key challenges on the horizon for the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS). Addressing these challenges will be essential to achieving the agency’s mission effectively:

  • Data Security and Privacy: With the increasing frequency and sophistication of cyber threats, ensuring data security and privacy remains a top concern. Anushree and her team will continue to invest in robust cybersecurity measures, staying proactive in safeguarding sensitive information to protect the children and families the agency serves.
  • Technological Evolution: The rapidly evolving technological landscape demands agility and adaptability. To stay ahead, the DCS will focus on modernizing its IT infrastructure, embracing cloud solutions, and fostering a culture of innovation within the team. Keeping pace with technology is crucial to improving services and operational efficiency.
  • Interoperability: Achieving interoperability with other state agencies and organizations is vital for seamless data exchange and enhanced services. Strengthening partnerships and adopting standards that facilitate data sharing will be a priority, ensuring that the DCS can work cohesively with other entities to support the welfare of children and families.
  • Change Management Complexity: Working with various stakeholders across Indiana’s 92 counties with diverse needs for change management adds layers of complexity to implementing, adopting, and sustaining technology-driven solutions. Anushree recognizes the importance of addressing these complexities effectively to ensure the successful implementation and adoption of technology initiatives.

By proactively addressing these challenges, Anushree and her team aim to leverage technology as a force for positive change, enhancing the welfare and well-being of children and families throughout Indiana while maintaining the highest standards of data security and privacy.

Effective Communication and Collaboration

Fostering a positive work culture and ensuring effective communication among our IT staff at the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) is integral to its success. The agency embraces a culture of collaboration, where all team member’s contributions are valued, and ideas are encouraged to flourish.

The famous Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”  His thoughtful words highlight the need for clear and effective communication within a team. It reminds us that simply conveying information is not enough; true communication requires understanding and engagement. To emphasize the important of clear communication and respect within my team members, we have regular team meetings and open-door policies that lead to a lot of walk-ins, ad-hoc huddles, collaborations, and brainstorming with the intent of problem-solving. The IT leadership team has an environment where communication flows freely, ensuring that everyone’s voices are heard and all concerns addressed as promptly as possible.

Frances Hesselbein, prior CEO of the Girls Scouts had said, “Culture does not change because we desire to change it. Culture changes when the organization is transformed; the culture reflects the realities of people working together every day.”

As the leader of DCS IT, Anushree makes a concerted effort to stay mindful about the daily actions and interactions to express how much she values the team. By leading by example, Anushree sets the tone to build and sustain a culture of mutual respect that fosters high performance and collaboration.

Measuring the Impact of Technology

Measuring the success of technology in driving the overall performance of the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) involves a comprehensive evaluation of various key factors:

  • Efficiency and Timeliness: The impact of technology on the efficiency and timeliness of DCS operations is a crucial metric. This includes assessing how quickly cases are processed, response times to inquiries, and the overall speed of administrative tasks. Improvements in these areas can lead to better outcomes for children and families.
  • Data Accuracy and Reliability: Technology should enhance the accuracy and reliability of data within the DCS. Measurement involves evaluating the consistency and correctness of data stored in systems. Accurate data is essential for informed decision-making and program evaluation.
  • User Satisfaction: The satisfaction of DCS staff, partners, and users of the technology is an important measure. High levels of user satisfaction indicate that the technology meets their needs, enhances their productivity, and supports their roles effectively.
  • Client Outcomes: Ultimately, the success of technology should be reflected in improved outcomes for children and families. Metrics include assessing child safety, family stability, timely service delivery, and overall well-being. Positive impacts on these outcomes demonstrate the effectiveness of technology-driven initiatives.
  • Compliance and Security: Ensuring compliance with data privacy and security regulations, as well as adherence to industry standards, is a critical measure. Evaluating the robustness of security measures and the organization’s ability to protect sensitive information is essential.
  • Cost Efficiency: Measuring the cost-effectiveness of technology implementations is also vital. It involves evaluating the return on investment (ROI) and cost savings achieved through technology-driven efficiencies and optimizations.
  • Innovation and Adaptability: Assessing the organization’s ability to embrace innovation and adapt to evolving technological trends is important for long-term success. This includes evaluating the adoption of emerging technologies and the organization’s readiness for future challenges.

By regularly monitoring and assessing these key factors, the Indiana DCS can effectively measure the impact of technology on its overall performance. Continuous improvement and optimization of technology initiatives can lead to better outcomes for the agency’s mission of safeguarding and supporting vulnerable children and families across the state.

Vision for the Indiana DCS

Anushree’s perspective aligns with the philosophy of tech industry pioneers like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, who emphasized the importance of customer-centricity and actively seeking feedback for continuous improvement. By prioritizing the voice of its customers, the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) is dedicated to delivering technology services that align with the needs and expectations of its clients, including children, families, and stakeholders.

The wisdom of Steve Jobs, who urged companies to get exceptionally close to their customers, resonates with the Indiana DCS’s commitment to understanding and addressing the unique needs of its clients. By proactively anticipating and fulfilling those needs through technology, the agency aims to provide value well before its clients recognize those needs themselves.

Similarly, Bill Gates’ insight underscores the idea that even negative feedback can be a valuable source of learning and growth. By listening to unhappy customers and leveraging their feedback, the technology team at Indiana DCS can identify areas for improvement and use these insights to refine its technology solutions and services continually.

Ultimately, the Indiana DCS’s success in using technology to serve and protect children and families in Indiana is measured by its ability to remain responsive to client feedback, stay adaptable in a changing environment, and consistently provide high-quality, client-centered solutions that enhance the well-being of those it serves.

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